20 new books for the primary classroom

I was asked by a couple of our students recently (hello!) to put together a list of recommended primary titles across the curriculum; a primary school teachers toolkit of sorts. In order to make it easier to choose only 20 books I have just selected recently published titles so I apologise for leaving out so many others that could have easily made this list. Even then it was so hard to select just 20! Please add your own ideas and contributions by posting a comment at the end of the post. I’m sure many of you are already building up your own ‘toolkit’ that you could share with us, especially the 3rd years finishing off their CLB assignment who will have just created their own. Let us know what you plan on having in your primary classroom.

If you are looking for a similar toolkit, the excellent CLPE Core Books Online site lists core titles for the Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, so make sure and have a look at their (much longer) selection as well. You will need to register (free) to access the site.



Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes from Around the World edited by Elizabeth Hammill (Frances Lincoln). A beautifully illustrated multicultural collection of nursery rhymes for the classroom (Early Years and Key Stage 1)

Off by Heart edited by Roger Stevens (A&C Black). A collection of carefully selected poems of varying style and length for children to memorise and enjoy (Key Stage 1).

My Life as a Goldfish and Other Poems by Rachel Rooney (Frances Lincoln). A very accessible collection from an award winning poet (Key Stage 1 and 2)


Picture Books

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins). This humorous story allows children to consider different perspectives, diversity and modes of writing and would inspire writing activities (Key Stage 1 and 2).

Oi Frog by Kes Gray (Hodder Children’s). A laugh-out-loud rhyming story that you will enjoy reading aloud with your class (Key Stage 1).

The Something by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan). A hole in the garden prompts increasingly imaginative descriptions of what could be in there. A useful book for imaginative discussion or writing activities (Early Years and Key Stage 1).

Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln). Award-winning story of the journey of a refugee child and how she adapts to life in her new country (Key Stage 2).

The Girl with the Parrot on her Head by Daisy Hirst (Walker). A deceptively simple book that is ripe for discussion about feelings and anxieties, and also philosophy through discussion about the meaning of the parrot (Key Stage 1).


Fiction (children’s novels)

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury). Told in free verse from the point of view of a Polish child who has immigrated to the UK (Upper Key Stage 2).

The Goth Girl series by Chris Riddell (Macmillan). Humorous horror for younger readers from the current Children’s Laureate (Lower Key Stage 2).

Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press). Award-winning powerful story of a girl who struggles to look after her brother with complex needs (Upper Key Stage 2).

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen (Doubleday). Exciting sci-fi story set in a London tower block (Upper Key Stage 2).

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by Chris Riddell (Bloomsbury). Two well-known fairy tales are interwoven and revised in this stunningly illustrated book from a great team (Upper Key Stage 2).

El Deafo by Cece Bell (Amulet Books). A memoir in graphic novel form that I can’t recommend highly enough. (Key Stage 1 and 2)



Welcome to the Family by Mary Hoffman (Frances Lincoln). An information book in picture book format which celebrates diverse families including LGBT parents, adoption, mixed-race families (Key Stage 1 and 2).

Shackleton’s Journey by William Gill (Flying Eye). A visually stunning award-winning book tracing the story of the historic Antarctic expedition. Much of the information is presented in visual form which makes this a stimulating and accessible book (Key Stage 2).

Maps by Aleksandra Mizieliânska and Daniel Mizieliânski (Big Picture Press). Impressive large format atlas featuring hand drawn maps which depict a wealth of interesting information about countries and their cultures (Key Stage 2).

The Story of Britain by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Franklin Watts) (or anything by this wonderful duo). The history of Britain presented through narrative and illustrations. Each double page spread depicts a different era from the Stone Age to the 21st century (Key Stage 2).

A World of Your Own by Laura Carlin (Phaidon Press). Carlin uses her own drawing examples to inspire children to create their own imaginary worlds (Key Stage 1).

Eddie’s Tent and How to Go Camping by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln) (Key Stage 1 and 2). A story of a family’s camping trip is interwoven with information on bushcraft skills such as map reading, knot tying and campfire cooking.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *